Darwin is the capital of Australia's Northern Territory and the only capital in the tropics. It's a city of sidewalk cafes, excellent museums and galleries, and stunning natural landscapes. It's also a haven for lovers of adventure sports.
You can't come to Darwin without exploring the great outdoors. Lake Alexander, Charles Darwin National Park, and Casuarina Coastal Reserve are just some of the highlights.
The city is packed with museums and galleries, such as the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, which reflect local Aboriginal culture and has wider international exhibits.
The Deckchair Cinema at the Waterfront Precinct screens films outdoors from April to November. A Darwin institution not to be missed.
Darwin has a youthful population and this is reflected in the number of clubs and cocktail bars.
There are more than 50 nationalities making Darwin their home and this is reflected in the stunning variety of Pan-Asian food in the markets and restaurants.
Located right beside Darwin's central business district is Mindil Beach, a pristine and relaxing stretch of land and water, waves and sand. Clearly, residents of Darwin have their priorities straight. Travelers will enjoy the overall laid-back vibe of the city whose spirit is captured by Mindil Beach. Besides the regular beach activities, you'll be able to enjoy the famous Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, which run from April to October every year. Over 60 food stalls and 130 craft stalls converge, offering everything from fried satay on a stick to tarot readings, impromptu massages, and decadent cakes. All the while, there's music playing all along the promenade.
Known as MAGNT, this space is dedicated to various permanent and traveling exhibitions of Australian art and culture. There is a specific focus and active promotion of indigenous art and the preservation of Southeast Asian and Pacific culture. Visitors will especially like the Cyclone Tracey simulator and a massive stuffed crocodile named Sweetheart, who used to ravage local boats. Besides this are permanent exhibits on maritime history and the natural sciences of Australia, which are great draws because the wildlife of the continent is so unique.
With its well-laid tracks, clean grounds and a host of local birds and butterflies, the Holmes Jungle Nature Park feels like a real trek through a canopied jungle without actually leaving civilization. While the nature park has a picnic area with restrooms and shaded tables, the real draw for travelers will be the stunning views promised to all those who hike the paths. Holmes Jungle has two separate lookout points that reward hikers who make the climb. Once you get to the top, be ready for panoramic views of the water and the city of Darwin.
An official marine sanctuary, Darwin's Doctors Gully is a wild and wooded area that eventually flows out to meet the sea. This natural and serene setting is home to beautiful and rare sea creatures that visitors can interact with, thanks to a shallow shoreline. Aquascene's main attraction is the designated fish feeding activities featuring creatures such as wild rays and bream, right in their natural habitat. Visitors should come during the higher tides since the receding water eventually takes these beauties back out to sea.
The resort and casino of Skycity Darwin pulls out all the stops when it comes to the royal treatment. It's a great little spot for a "staycation", thanks to its entertainment and amenities. Visitors can enjoy all the perks of a trip to Darwin without ever leaving the hotel as it offers world-class dining restaurants as well as special casino nights. Skycity Darwin also allows visitors to indulge in the finer things in life, thanks to its private white sand beach, saunas, a golf course and multiple entertainment shows.
Darwin has a tropical climate with temperatures around 90 all year. May to October is drier.
Darwin International Airport (DRW) has flights to other Australian cities and international connections from Asia and Europe. The airport shuttle bus will take you into town for AU$18. A taxi costs AU$30.
The Ghan train service runs twice a week from Adelaide to Darwin. Fares vary depending on season but a single fare can be from AU$2,199.
The only highway into Darwin is the Stuart Highway, which runs from Alice Springs and Adelaide. Remember that distances are long. The trip from Sydney is 2,500 miles.
Darwin has regular bus services from most Australian cities. The trip from Sydney takes almost three days and costs AU$469.
Ashton Lodge on Mitchell Street has affordable rooms in the center of town, while Skycity on Gilruth Avenue is a 5-star boutique hotel minutes from Downtown.
Cullen Bay - this is an attractive area centered on the marina. Restaurants and bars are plentiful and there are charter boats in the harbor.
Darwin Wharf - this area has been extensively redeveloped, with a cruise ship terminal, wave pool, and lots of hotels.
Nightcliff - this is one of the oldest districts of the city, surrounded by the sea on three sides. It has good walking trails and a popular jetty.
Darwin has a public bus service serving the city center. Tickets are from AU$3 or AU$7 for a day pass.
Taxis are widely available. Meter drop is AU$4.40 and you will then pay AU$2.50 per mile.
Driving is the easiest way to get around. Traffic is light and parking is plentiful and car rental is available from AU$50.
The Mindil Beach Sunset Markets are great for finding tasty local foods. Smith Street is the center of the mainstream shopping area and also specializes in the famous local pearls and Aboriginal crafts.
A quart of milk in Darwin will cost AU$1.41 and a dozen eggs is AU$4.52.
Hanuman Restaurant on Mitchell Street has good Indian, Malaysian, and Thai food from AU$22. Lewinsky's is also on Mitchell Street and serves excellent seafood from AU$30.